My Ultimate TBR List + Challenges

ultimate-tbrI’ve been thinking a lot about how many books I buy and how many I read – starting somewhere in the middle of 2016, I’ve been keeping meticulous notes on my book expenses and so on. I also pulled unread books off our bookshelves and made one hell of a mess, then put most of them back again.

The bottom line is that I have a huge number of unread books languishing on my shelves while I fall prey to new shinies and spend too much money on books I really don’t need to read (like over-hyped YA fantasies or bad romances – cue Lady Gaga). I know my list isn’t nearly as long as that of other readers but it’s too long for me and I need to fix it because I really want to read these books!

So I decided to make this ultimate list of all the books I already own and want to read (we do own books that I haven’t read but have no intention of ever reading – like Moby Dick, purchased (and read) by my husband). And in 2017, I want to bring it down by … let’s say a half. These are books I genuinely want to read, not just those I think I ought to read, either. And it doesn’t include re-reads! A lot of them are huge fantasies (hello, Robin Hobb!) so I hope I’ll get some of them out of the way.

I’ve been putting some of them on my seasonal TBR lists (see summer, autumn, and winter), and I think I’ll keep doing that because it seems more manageable that way.

backlist-reader-challenge-2017I’ll keep linking back to this post in each monthly recap to report on my progress – and I’m joining two reading challenges to keep myself motivated! And before you ask – YES, they are very similar but I’m joining both because I’m hoping more people looking at me fail with keep me accountable and on track.

The first is The Backlist Reader Challenge 2017 hosted by The Bookwyrm’s Hoard. The rules are really straightforward: the books that count towards the challenge must be published before 2016 and must already be on my tbr list or pile. Then I need to review the books I read and add them to the linky on Lark’s site.

beatthebacklist2017The second is Beat the Backlist challenge hosted by NovelKnight. For this one, the books read must be published before 2017 (which is even more lenient) and I have to create a tbr list (see below). There’s also the option of joining the Hogwarts house cup mini challenge – go Gryffindor!

I’m probably going to read some e-books I already own that have been published before 2016/17 but I’m definitely focusing on cutting down my physical tbr pile. If I happen to buy (or get) more books to be put on this list, the ratio stays the same. I’ll figure it out as I go along.


The List (forgive me for not putting the titles in italics, I don’t have the patience for that):

  1. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
  2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. Nikolikje by Neil Gaiman
  5. Dobra znamenja by Neil Gaiman
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  7. To noč sem jo videl by Drago Jančar
  8. Vreščji mojster by Walter Moers
  9. Več kot to by Patrick Ness
  10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  11. Norveški gozd by Haruki Murakami
  12. The Book of Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland
  13. Irish Folk and Fairy Tales
  14. The Secret Life of Words
  15. Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
  16. Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
  17. Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
  18. Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
  19. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Suzanna Clarke
  20. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  21. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  22. Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb
  23. Forest Mage by Robin Hobb
  24. Renegade’s Magic by Robin Hobb
  25. Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
  26. The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
  27. Fool’s Fate Robin Hobb
  28. Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
  29. Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  30. Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier
  31. Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
  32. Un Secret by Philippe Grimbert
  33. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Castle in the Sky by Diana Wynne Jones
  36. Biographie de la faim by Amelie Nothomb
  37. Les Catilinaires by Amelie Nothomb
  38. Le Fait du prince by Amelie Nothomb
  39. Tuer le pere by Amelie Nothomb
  40. Antechrista by Amelie Nothomb
  41. Chercher le vent by Guillaume Vigneault
  42. Champagne by Monique Proulx
  43. Le Sexe des Etoiles by Monique Proulx
  44. Le Combat d’hiver by Jean-Claude Mourlevat
  45. Deviški samomori by Jeffrey Eugenides
  46. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
  47. Laurus by Jevgenij Vodolazkin
  48. The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima
  49. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich


  1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
  2. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
  3. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  4. Us by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen
  5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I’m sure there are more but these are on the top of my digital tbr for now.



I am also joining the Discussion Challenge, which was the best challenge I participated in last year. It’s hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at Midnight and involves writing discussion posts. It’s a great one for building your community and meeting lovely new bloggers who have something to say!

I’m trying for the category called Creative Conversationalist, which means I’ll be writing at least eleven discussions this year. Let’s do this!


Have you read any of these? Which one should I pick up first?

Are you joining any reading challenges this year?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

  • Good luck on your challenges! This reminds me, I’ll also have to think about my reading goals for 2017 :)

    • Thank you! I’ll be adding some general goals but these challenges look simple enough. :)

  • Good luck!

    I know the need to always conquer your TBR and I’m pretty certain your list of unread books would be overshadowed by mine (you see my Sunday posts, I have issues). I know I can’t simply say I’m going to read the books on my shelf, though. As soon as I try and restrict myself my need to spend money and get new things goes crazy. I’m also thinking of using a reading challenge to conquer mine, I’m going to do the Shelf Love challenge which lets me to continue growing my TBR without going crazy. I’ve got little quarterly updates I can do as well with that. I’m also having a book budget for each month, I’ve not settled on how much to spend yet, though. I figure if I can still get new books but I’m limited but what I can spend I may still get lots of new books but I’ll put the effort in to hunt for bargains and I will try and wait before getting books.

    And I’m doing the discussion challenge because I need something to help motivate me to do something other than reviews lately.

    Hopefully we’ll both be successful. Fingers crossed anyway.

    • Yeah setring realistic goals when it comes to buying new books is good. I set myself a 25€ monthly book budget, which is NOT A LOT but still manageable. It prevents me to make TOO many impulse purchases. I read most of the new purchases as soon as I read them usually, it’s mostly highly anticipated fantasy releases & romance.

      Good luck with your Shelf Love challenge!

  • Good luck, Kaja! I feel like a lot of us bookworms have the same problem. On the bright/dark side, even though I haven’t been reading as much, I’ve had less money, so at least I’m not buying at the rate I was, but the unread pile on my shelves is still huge. Hopefully the accountability scheme will help. :)

    And I suggest starting with Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s light and fun and a super quick read, so you can feel productive quickly. ;)

    • Thanks, Kel! Yeah I set a book budget for myself as well, it helps me avoid MOST of impulse purchases. :)

      And thank you for the rec, I’ll give Jones another try!

  • This is super smart! Good Luck! I like the tactic of joining two challenges for extra accountability. I subscribe to an e-mail list that sends out daily lists of books under $3 and it’s killing me! It’s only $2 or $3 a book but that adds up! I should just unsubscribe but I’m afraid that I’ll miss that one book I’m dying to read that’s not at my library, etc…. I have so many awesome books sitting right here, dang it! Anyway, I’ll be cheering you on!

    P.S. Your lovely sunset picture at first glance also looks like a picture of a UFO:).

    • Yeah those emails are the worst, I subscribe to a romance edition and it’s HELL on my book budget. Will you be joining any similar challenges?

      And you’re right! I hadn’t even noticed. :)

      • I am so bad at challenges – sometimes they work for me but mostly they don’t. I haven’t been able to pin down if there’s something particular that makes one wok for me. That said I am considering, thanks to your inspiration, doing something. This year was the year of catching up on series and it felt like I made progress although we’ll see when I actually examine! So maybe this year will be the year of reading-my-own-damn-books. :)

  • Maraia

    Yay, I’m happy to see Robin Hobb and Juliet Marillier on here! I’m not familiar with most of the other books. Not surprisingly, I think you should start with Ship of Destiny!

    I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done this year (I’m not expecting much), but I’ll probably do the Popsugar challenge again. Good luck on yours! I’m glad you’ll be doing the discussion challenge again. :)

    • I’ll get to Hobb, I promise. It’s staring at me with that bookmark already a quarter way through, making me feel guilty.

      Well, you have some other great things planned for 2017, so it’s not so bad if reading gets relegated to the sidelines for a bit. Knowing you, you’ll still manage to sneak in some reading time. :) And yeah, the discussion challenge was good last year!

      • Maraia

        Haha, don’t feel guilty! There are so many books to be read. ;)

        Yes, I think so! I’m trying to worry about the number of books I read and instead focus on not forcing myself to read mediocre ones. :D

        • This is the reason I never do the GR reading challenge. What does it matter if I read a 100 books if half of them are crap? And I’ll always feel like I should be reading more books when half the blogosphere is reading like 170 books a year – while their life circumstances are completely different from mine. So yeah, focusing on quality books, yay! :)

  • I really need to read Jane Eyre this year. I read (and hated) it when I was much younger, but I have a feeling I’ll appreciate it more now that I’m older. Good luck with all of your challenges. I really enjoyed all of your discussion posts this year!

    • Want to buddy read Jane? I need some incentive. But no pressure if you’re not up for it. :)

      • I’d love to buddy read it with you. I’ve got a couple of buddy reads lined up for February and March, but I’m free April and beyond. Whenever you want, I’ve already got it on my shelf. Let me know!

        • Okay, deal! April it is, but we might not finish the thing in one month (we’ll figure out the details when the time comes). Phew, this is perfect! I’ll finally read it.

          • Sounds good! Let’s talk more about it once we get closer to April. So stoked!

  • Greg Hill

    Ooh fun list. Robin Hobb caught my eye and she does write good stuff. I like the Fool and Fitz stories.

    I hear you there are so many good backlist titles, and these are great challenges! I’m tempted myself… :)

    • I know, Hobb is great. I need to finish the Liveship Traders series so I can start with the Fool & Fitz stories again! I miss those two.

      Shiny new releases so often overshadow great books that are a couple of years old. I want to mix things up a little this year.

  • Good luck! I really need to read more books on my TBR too.

    • Thanks, Quinn! And yeah, I want to read both old and new books, mix things up a little.

  • Dang Kaja, you can read French too? Just how many languages are you fluent in?? 😂

    Good luck with beating the backlist! As usual, I’ll be trying to do the same and undoubtedly failing. But such is life! And really, it’s not a terrible problem to have in the grand scheme of things.

    • Well yeah, I studied English and French at Uni. But saying I’m fluent in French would be stretching it a bit these days, I can’t believe how much you can forget in 5 years not using the language regularly. It’s such a shame and I want to get back on track, this is why I’m going to try to read as many French books off this list as possible. (By the way, I also understand some Italian, Serbian and Croatian, though I have to supplement my words with lots of hand gestures. It comes with the territory – Slovenia being on the crossroads of all these cultures and having only 2 million speakers, so you HAVE to learn other languages if you want to travel.)

      Nope, it’s not a terrible problem at all! :D When my parents complained about all the books I dragged home (when I still lived with them), I always told them they should be lucky I don’t have a passion for designer handbags or shoes. Books are much better. :)

  • Chrystal M

    The discussion post challenge sounds great. I might have to join too! Good luck with your goals in 2017!

    • The discussion challenge was the best I participated in last year! I’m really looking forward to it again. Thanks and I hope you’ll join us! :)

  • Best of luck with your challenges. I didn’t exactly challenge myself to read the booksn I already own in 2016 or to read backlist books but I did really well. I guess that shows that I should commit to more reading challenges LOL!

    • Thanks, Micheline! I’m glad you did well with your non-challenges last year. :) Here’s to a good reading year!